What Caused The Nuclear War In Fallout? A Look Back At The Origins

No doubt, nukes were dropped, but what led to the catastrophe?

Story Highlights

  • Fallout’s nuclear wasteland didn’t appear out of nowhere and has a long history behind it.
  • The start of the Resource Wars due to international tensions led to the creation of the vaults.
  • The war ended in 2077 when countries bombed each other and destroyed the world in hours.

In the last decade or so, the Fallout franchise has arguably become the most popular depiction of the nuclear devastation genre in entertainment media with its mascot Vault Boy becoming an iconic part of pop culture.

Every one of Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas, and Fallout 4 has sold over 10 million copies while garnering universal acclaim from critics and fans around the globe. And, with this year's Fallout TV series from Amazon Prime also becoming the streaming service's second-most-watched show of all time and leading to a player resurgence, the IP has definitely cemented itself as a household name in the entertainment sphere.

YouTube video

Many of the new fans of Fallout have the same question in their mind: What is the lore behind the nuclear war that is the background for the franchise's story? We all know that the nuclear powers obliterated each other, but why? In this article, I'll tell you exactly why and how we got our beloved wasteland America from the games.

How It All Began

The history of Fallout's world is pretty similar to our own up to the Second World War and a few decades after it. There was a rise of communism, a Cold War, and the US invaded Vietnam just like in real life history. However, things started changing around 1969 when the United States divided its 50 states into 13 commonwealths to stop the rise of communism.

As a result of this significant change, unrest and violence increased in the country in addition to the continuous growth of communism. 

The combination of these factors made America progress a lot faster in technology to better deal with the issues at hand. Probably the biggest deviation the Fallout world takes from ours is that to build life-changing tech, scientists mostly harnessed atomic power which allowed them to invent things only possible in sci-fi.

And, a major reason behind the over-reliance on nuclear power is because the integrated microchip was never invented in the Fallout universe. The retro-futuristic aesthetic of the series Is a by-product of This very facet and the fields of AI and robotics advancing by leaps and bounds.

A major figure behind all of this progress is a man named Robert House whose company RobCo is instrumental to the world of Fallout, inventing items such as the Pip Boy, the Protector, and Sentry Bots.

Fallout technology
The Fallout Tech Has A Retro-Futuristic Aesthetic Because The Microchip Was Never Invented | Source: Polygon

The Start Of The Resource Wars:

At the start of 2052, the world is once again sunk into a war with the threat of nuclear devastation looming large. Titled the "Resource Wars," this conflict stems from the lack of natural resources in the world and the struggle of superpowers to attain what's left of them. Britain declares war on the entire Middle East as it wants their vast supply of fossil fuels.

On the other hand, the US invades Mexico, annexes Canada, and is attacked by China through its Alaskan territories. With such high tensions and all the nuclear powers going to war, the end result is no surprise but we are getting ahead of ourselves.

With international relations getting worse every day, the American government and the mysterious organization known as the Enclave partnered up with RobCo and Vault-tec to work on something known as Project Safehouse.

The official plan is to build 122 vaults across America each with a capacity of 1000 citizens that can protect its dwellers from a nuclear fallout. Some of these vaults, like Vault 76, opened even before the nukes dropped and the project made Vault-Tec the most valuable company in America.

However, the reality of this last-ditch plan was a lot bleaker than anyone could imagine. You see, most of the vaults were actually just horrifying social experiments built to gather data about certain aspects of human beings. Only a few vaults were left untouched and were “normal” but even that was done so The Enclave could have a baseline comparison in its research.

YouTube video

The secretive organization wanted to use this information to build a multi-generational starship to inhabit another planet among the stars as they thought Earth would be uninhabitable. Hence, these vault dwellers were used and left to deal with the nuclear Fallout so that the American civilization could endure. 

Fallout Day

Now that we have covered the basis, it’s time to talk about the day when everything changed: October 23, 2077.

With the resource war at its peak, all the superpowers started dropping nukes on one another and in just two hours, the entire Earth was in tatters. Most of the population died from the initial bombing and those lucky few that survived were killed by the cruel radioactive rain that rendered the planet uninhabitable, killed several species, and made new ones through mutation.

Both Fallout 4 and the TV show give us a glimpse of this day, with the latter displaying how the nukes leveled Los Angeles and turned actor Cooper Howard into a Ghoul.

Did you find this helpful? Leave feedback below.

Thanks! Do share your feedback with us. ⚡

How can we make this post better? Your help would be appreciated. ✍

Subscribe to our newsletter and get up-to-speed gaming updates delivered to your inbox.

We don’t spam! Read more in our privacy policy.

Ahmed Mansoor is a News Writer who has a deep passion for single-player adventure games. He loves to keep tabs on the gaming and technology industries and loves to break stories that interest his audience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and several years of experience writing for games. Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor's in Journalism || Written 600+ News Stories.

Related Articles

Join Our Community

Enjoyed this article? Discuss the latest gaming news, get expert help with guides and errors, and chat about all things gaming on eXputer Forums and Discord Server. Connect with fellow gamers who share your passion by becoming a part of eXputer's community.